Featured Tool of the Trade: Google Calendar
First and foremost, Google needs to become your new best friend. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for a free Gmail account by clicking here, and then come back to this post so you can see what we have to say about Google Calendar.
Once you have set-up a Gmail account, you have a Google account, which grants you access to a number of incredibly useful resources, one of which is our current focus: Google Calendar.
Why we love it:
- Cost: It’s free!
- Organization: You can create several categories for your calendar such as “Pay schedule” “Employee schedule” “Vacation” “Family calendar” – whatever you want! Each one is color-coded and can be customized. Anyone you give access to will be able to see it when they sign into their own Google account, and you can determine whether or not you want them to be able to edit it. Employee schedule…probably don’t want editing. Family calendar…you probably do.
- Shareability: You can share it with whomever you want – employees, business partners, members of your family.
- Compatibility: Within this crowded online calendar vertical, Google Calendar distinguishes itself because of its user-friendly interface and, more importantly, its compatibility across numerous platforms, including Windows, Mac, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, Sun, you name it! If your device has Internet capabilities, Google calendar is compatible.
- Reminders: Running a small or start up business can be very hectic. Every day is different and you’re doing the job of 5 people at once. Little reminders here and there are a huge help. Google Calendar can be customized to send you email reminders however long in advance you set it…15 minutes, 2 hours, it’s up to you.
- Huge time-saver: you can set certain events to “repeat” for specific durations of time, or infinitely. If you’re a busy bio major and have class every Tuesday night from 7pm-8:30pm, it will automatically show up every week. This proves to be a huge upgrade over having to manually enter all of the information. You can also delete a single event without messing up the schedule.
Here is an example of what it looks like when you log into your Google Calendar. Notice the different categories on the left and their corresponding color-coded items within the calendar. You can add your desired number of categories to the left and organize it any way you desire!
This calendar can help make your time-consuming, tedious tasks more manageable. Todd’s team is currently designing a blog and wants to track all posts by means of an editorial calendar. With Google Calendar, Todd is able to set up a category called “Editorial Calendar,” add everyone’s email address to a list and grant each member access. He sets it up so that everyone can edit the calendar, even the interns who started last week. By granting access to all individuals within his small business, everyone from the CEO to the administrative assistant, are on the same page. As a result, productivity increases, work flow improves and everyone is happy that they are engaged and in the loop.
Getting and staying organized is key in any endeavor, but imperative in small or start up businesses. There is a lot to do and likely not too many people to split it up, so staying on task and keeping everyone in the loop is a great way to ensure you are as productive and efficient as possible.
Organization can also lead to increased flexibility. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out: when you have everything planned out in front of you, it’s easier to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. Meeting Thursday with a new, huge client? Sure, no problem! Just move the staff meeting until later that afternoon, and Friday morning’s training session to Friday afternoon. Everyone who needs to know will have access to their respective calendars, and will be able to access the new calendar just seconds after you make the requisite changes. This would normally require several emails and phone calls, but with Google Calendar, all you have to do is make the changes and everyone who has access will be informed, no further steps required.